Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Ding’

Report: Kobe medically cleared for training camp

VIDEO: Kobe Bryant is ready to add to his impressive list of career milestones

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Kobe Bryant will be front and center when the Los Angeles Lakers open training camp in two weeks for the 2015-16 season.

The Los Angeles Lakers’ resident superstar has been medically cleared for all basketball activities, per a report from Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report.

Bryant has made it back from surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder slightly ahead of the nine-month recovery time that was initially set as his timeline. With his medical clearance, Bryant is just days away from what could be his final NBA training camp with the Lakers, and perhaps the final training camp of his career.

Three weeks ago he celebrated his first day back on the court with this Instagram post:

Being medically cleared for basketball activities, however, marks the official return from the injury that ended his 2014-15 season after just 35 games. What could be his final season with the Lakers could also wind up being his most challenging season, since the Lakers don’t project to be among the contenders for one of the eight playoff spots in the rugged Western Conference. Bryant’s career has been fueled by his doubters, so that should make for an extremely interesting journey for he and his Lakers teammates, as well as the rest of us who’ll go along for the ride.

Reports: Kobe done for the season

By Sekou Smith,

VIDEO: Kobe Bryant addressing the media during All-Star Weekend

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Kobe Bryant‘s 2013-14 season looks to be finished after just six games. All that’s left is the word from either Kobe or the Los Angeles Lakers, according to a report from Bleacher Report columnist Kevin Ding that broke late last night.’s Chris Broussard confirmed what Ding first reported, saying that Bryant is indeed finished for the 2013-14 season:

Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant will miss the remainder of the season, a league source confirmed to ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard.

Bryant has been sidelined since Dec. 17 with a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in the knee. He also missed the Lakers’ first 19 games while recovering from a torn Achilles in his left leg suffered last season.

The five-time NBA champion had called his recovery “a slow process” during a news conference held in New Orleans during All-Star Weekend last month.

Bryant was examined by team physician Dr. Steve Lombardo on Feb. 21, and it was determined the 18-year veteran would be sidelined another three weeks before being re-evaluated because of continued pain, swelling and soreness in the knee.

This is yet another blow in a season full of them for Lakers fans, who have been reeling since last summer when Dwight Howard bolted from the scene via free agency for Houston. Bryant missing the remainder of the Lakers’ season, though, is just the latest dagger:

The Los Angeles Lakers are expected to declare Bryant out for the rest of the 2013-14 season later this week, according to team sources. Bryant is not accompanying the team on its trip to Oklahoma City and San Antonio, staying back to be reexamined by team doctor Steve Lombardo. And considering where Bryant’s level of discomfort remains with the fractured lateral tibial plateau in his left knee, barring an unforeseen change, the team will finalize the decision that Bryant will not play again this season.

After his highly anticipated recovery from his torn left Achilles tendon suffered 11 months ago, Bryant played just six games before hurting his knee Dec. 17. He was encouraged by his performance in that final game, a victory over the Memphis Grizzlies, unaware at the time that what he thought was a hyperextended knee was much more significant.

Although the Lakers’ original estimate was that Bryant would miss approximately six weeks, he is now expected to miss the final 17 weeks of the season. He said at the All-Star break he was frustrated by the slow recovery with his knee and noted, “It’s not the mind that wears down, it’s the body.”

Bryant will still be expected to anchor the Lakers next season, when he will be 36. He signed a two-year, $48.5 million extension in November to remain the NBA’s highest-paid player and continue through the 2015-16 season, at which time he will consider retirement.

Although he has expressed hope the Lakers will reload this summer via free agency, indications are the team will piece together a roster around him again with an eye toward saving its salary-cap space for a rich 2015 free-agent class.

Despite Bryant’s limited availability, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said last month that no one should question Bryant’s ability to play “at a high level” next season.

Some of us have been calling for Bryant, as well as Steve Nash, to punt the remainder of this injury-plagued season for a while now. There’s nothing that can be salvaged from the wreckage of the tire fire that has gone on since last summer. Not even a few late-season appearances from one of the most beloved Lakers of all time.

When the trade deadline came and went last month and Pau Gasol was still a part of the team, it was clear that the Lakers were waving the white flag on this season and preparing for the future with a healthy Bryant as the centerpiece.

The timing of this pending announcement comes during the same week former Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who joined forces with Bryant for five of his 11 titles as a coach, is set to be announced as the basketball operations chief (the title is reportedly still being negotiated) of the New York Knicks.

The Lakers chose Mike D’Antoni as their coach last season over a third round of Jackson, who has chosen not to return in that capacity this time around.

Bryant apparently won’t come back in any capacity this season, either. All that’s left is the official announcement, which could come before the end of the week.

Time For Kobe To Call It A Season

VIDEO: Kobe Bryant opens up to TNT’s David Aldridge about his injury, this season and much more

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Since no one else wants to say it, I will.

It’s time Kobe Bryant, time to call it a season and hunker down and get ready for the 2014-15 season.

I don’t care that those words constitute blasphemy in the world of Kobe’s followers. Sometimes, even for a great player like Kobe, someone else has to make that call. And someone in the Lakers’ organization needs to make this one. Now that we know Kobe will miss another two to four weeks recovering from the fractured knee that has cost him the Lakers’ last 20 games (news courtesy of our man Kevin Ding from Bleacher Report).

The Lakers’ 4-16 record since the knee fracture was diagnosed is the most obvious nod to Kobe’s greatness but also the most glaring exhibit as to why he needs to forgo the rest of this season. His absence has already buried a mediocre team that is not going to recover in time to make a serious playoff push.

The hole is already too deep.

Kobe pushing it to get back in time to finish out this season in uniform would be a useless exercise for a player who should not be subject to playing exhibition games during the regular season at this stage of his career. Kobe can’t save the Lakers’ season, coach Mike D’Antoni‘s job or anything else by coming back this season. In fact, I think it helps the Lakers’ cause more if he stays off the court the rest of this season and focuses more on his recruiting effort for free agency. (Yeah, I know he said he’s not going to recruit Carmelo Anthony or anyone else, but don’t believe that hype!)

I don’t want to see a Lakers team with Kobe and Steve Nash (who is reportedly close to making his long-awaited return to active rotation duty soon) struggling to find their footing knowing that the season ends for the Lakers on April 16 against the San Antonio Spurs.

It would be different if Kobe was younger, if he was still in the physical prime of his career like Russell Westbrook or Derrick Rose. Rushing back on young legs and resilient joints and bones is a completely different challenge than what Kobe is and will deal with in the future.

Let the rebuilding job begin in the Southland, with Kobe as chief recruiter. His legacy is safe. He can afford to have a six-game season given all that he’s done in his career.

Now it’s time for him to rest up and recharge for next season and put an end to the foolish speculation as to when he’ll come back and what sort of miracles he can whip up for the Lakers this season!

Nash Story Looking Same Old, Same Older

VIDEO: Steve Nash dishes to Pau Gasol for the finish


And in this corner, 13.8 billion years old, wearing a white robe and carrying an hour glass, with a record of a gazillion-and-0, the undisputed, undefeated heavyweight champion of the universe: Father Time.

Good luck, Steve Nash.

While from a viewpoint of perseverance it is admirable that the 39-year-old point guard continues to grind away on the practice court, in training rooms and occasionally even in NBA games, perhaps Nash is inching closer to the inevitable day that he understands the only way to make the pain cease is to stop banging his head against the wall.

Another season in Los Angeles — his 18th in the league — is already taking shape as another fractured fairytale that might only wind up rivaling a year ago in production and frustration.

Three games into the Lakers season of waiting for Kobe Bryant to perform his on walk-on-water miracle of treating Achilles’ tendon surgery as if it were no more than a bad cold, Nash is neither completely on the shelf or fully in the picture. A bruised quadriceps gave him a seat on the bench as Jordan Farmar ran the offense down the stretch in the opening night win over the Clippers. He sat out the next night at Golden State. Then he could provide no help at all in the fourth quarter of another game that slipped away to the Spurs.

Not surprisingly, Nash is beginning to question himself and expressed those concerns to Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report:

“The nerves in the broken leg, then the nerves in the back and hamstring (last season)…I’d never felt my nerves in my life. I feel them every day now,” Nash said late Friday night. “So my body’s different. I worked incredibly hard this summer and got myself back where I have a chance. I felt good tonight; I could’ve had a good game.

“The want is there; I’m still enjoying the challenge. It comes from within. I know what I’ve been through; I know how old I am and the miles I have on the body, but I still take the challenge. And there are still things I can build on and can improve.”

Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni has called it “a process” and that’s exactly what it is — the aging process that is both inevitable and cruel to those who won’t acknowledge it. Just look at the Botoxed faces of some of those celebrities that sit courtside at Staples Center.

It might have seemed like a good idea to give up two first-round picks and two second-round picks for the former two-time MVP a year ago when the Lakers were assembling their fantasy team that also included Dwight Howard. But that was before a broken leg limited him to just 50 games and Nash was never able to find any kind of rhythm in an offense that couldn’t find an identity.

The thought was that with Howard gone, with Pau Gasol back in the middle, with D’Antoni given the free rein to run the offense that he knows and likes and with Nash given an entire summer to rest and rehab and then work his soon-to-be-40-year-old body back into shape, that he could look like his old self again.

Trouble is, all that seems to be there is an older self, which is not so much a failing, only reality. For D’Antoni to keep believing that all will be well again in fourth-quarter clutch situations as soon as Nash is back to form is denial. It would take the Hubble Telescope to see those 2005 and 2006 MVP seasons from here, and there is precious little reason based on the history of mankind to believe Nash can come within light years when the nicks and twinges are already evidence of a betraying body again less than a week into the season.

“I am 39. I’ll be 40 in a few months,” Nash said. “So you have to adapt your mindset to the new challenge. This is where I’m at. I have to get on top of my body, and I’ve got to let my game come around.

“It’s going to take more patience than usual, and it’s going to take maybe less work and more rest. I really have to check myself a lot as far as my typical approach to things to not overdo and not put myself back because I’m overdoing it or I’m trying for too much.

“This is where I am. I’ve got to accept some of that — and not give an inch when it comes to my belief.”

Tell that to the guy standing over in the other corner waiting for the bell for the next round to ring, tightening that belt on his unbeaten record.

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 135) Western Conference Preview Featuring Kevin Ding Of Bleacher Report (Oh, and Shaq!)

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — One game doesn’t make a season, not even when it’s a win for the battle of Los Angeles won by the underdog (yes, underdog) Lakers.

But the Lakers’ win over the Clippers was the nightcap of a fantastic start to the 2013-14 season, complete with LeBron James and the Miami Heat dismantling Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls on ring night and Paul George and the Indiana Pacers handling the Orlando Magic in their debut.

While the Heat and Pacers are free from the question marks, the Lakers are not. TNT’s Charles Barkley is convinced the Lakers are going to “stink” this season with and or without the services of one Kobe Bean Bryant, an opinion shared by many (though not anyone else on the Hang Time Podcast crew … we’re not that easily swayed).

While Bryant and the Lakers figured to be something of an afterthought this season, you couldn’t tell by what they did on opening night. They thumped the Clippers and forced us to take a hard look at our predictions on Episode 135’s Western Conference Preview Featuring Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report.

Maybe the Lakers, New Orleans Pelicans and Minnesota Timberwolves will all battle it out for one of those final playoff spots in the West this season. At the top, however, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and the rest of the reigning Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs will fight it out with the new-look Clippers, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder for the top spot.

If our crystal ball is correct, though, that party at the top will be crashed by Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, David Lee and the Golden State Warriors and perhaps even Dwight Howard, James Harden, Jeremy Lin and the Houston Rockets.

You get all of that and more on Episode 135 of the Hang Time Podcast, our Western Conference Preview featuring Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report (and that includes some encouraging words of wisdom for us from TNT’s Shaquille “The Big Impersonator” O’Neal).


As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of,  Lang Whitaker of’s All-Ball Blog and renaissance man Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best engineer in the business,  Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.

Report: Lakers To Amnesty World Peace


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The Metta World Peace era in Los Angeles has apparently come to an end. The colorful Lakers small forward could be the first casualty of the Dwight Howard decision to go to Houston with the Lakers prepared to waive him, according to Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register.

MWP, formerly Ron Artest, has been a staples in the Lakers’ lineup for the past four seasons. He played the hero in Game 7 of The Finals in 2010, knocking down the clutch 3-point shot (above) to help the Lakers survive the Boston Celtics at the Staples Center.

But he’ll exit in the fallout of a lost season and free agent summer that saw the Lakers strike out in their recruitment of Howard, who chose to chase his championship dreams with the Rockets instead of sticking around to see if he and Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, MWP and the rest of the Lakers could get it right during a second season together.

The Lakers are cutting ties with MWP on the same day they agreed to terms with center Chris Kaman on a one-year deal to help shore up the frontcourt rotation with Howard out of the picture.

There is still a hole at small forward, though. MWP was one of the only regulars to make it through the 2012-13 season healthy for the Lakers. He played in 75 regular season games, starting 66 of those. At 33, he surely has a few good years left in him. They just won’t be with the Lakers.

Howard: Playing With Pain And Purpose


HANG TIME, Texas — According to the medical reports, it’s a platelet-rich therapy injection in his injured right shoulder that could allow Dwight Howard to rejoin the Lakers for today’s game in suburban Detroit against the Pistons.

But more than anything that comes out of a syringe, it could be a shot of Kobe Bryant that’s putting the All-Star center back into the L.A. lineup.

Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register calls it the Kobe Code — punching the clock, finding a way, doing your job.

Bryant made clear after Howard’s last aggravation in Phoenix on Wednesday that he expects Howard to deal with it, even though Howard missed three games previously and now another game Friday.

“It’s one of those things when you get banged like that going up, you’re going to get that stinging sensation,” Bryant said. “That’s just how it’s going to be.”

Bryant knows from experience.

Bryant tore the labrum in his right shoulder in 2003. He did it in an awkward way also — though more uncool than unsound, basketball-wise: Bryant tried to finish a dunk while being fouled by Minnesota center Rasho Nesterovic and rammed the ball against the front rim, wrenching his shoulder.

It happened in the second game of the playoffs, and Bryant played the next 10 games with the limitation as the Lakers’ quest for a fourth consecutive NBA title failed. That was the season Bryant played all 82 games despite various injuries, averaging a still-career-high 41.5 minutes — and he averaged a still-career-high 32.1 points in the playoffs despite the shoulder injury.

In other words, what’s a little pain in your shoulder compared to the utter agony of the Lakers missing the playoffs?

There’s precious little time now for the Lakers to keep shrugging it all off and insisting that things will only get better with a bit more patience. The halfway mark of the schedule has already faded in the rearview mirror and the sirens are blaring louder than a five-alarm fire.

How many times does one team get say this is the week when it makes a stand? The last time the Lakers went out on the road was supposed to be the cure-all, but they promptly got slapped and swept in Toronto, Cleveland and Memphis.

Then a three-game winning streak, with supposedly a statement win over OKC in the middle, was going to be the springboard for the current seven-game Grammy Trip. But blowing a 13-point lead in the opener at Phoenix has the Lakers once more as exposed as Milli Vanilli.

Thus, here comes Howard back after missing just one game, not just to put some size in the middle of the lineup, but perhaps to show that he’s got the spine that Bryant demands of himself and his teammates. This is about earning respect.

Remember, while the short-term goal is still to do a full-Lazarus and somehow make the playoffs, there is still the long-term future to consider. As the 34-year-old Bryant pushes himself to the limit playing maximum minutes in pursuit of that sixth NBA title that would pull him even with Michael Jordan, he’s got to know that his wingman Howard is made of the right stuff. While Kobe and Shaquille O’Neal dueled and shot spitballs over petty personality disputes, neither ever doubted that the other would lace up his sneakers and play hurt with the season in the balance. How much faith would Bryant have in a new five-year contract given next summer to Howard if he hasn’t laid it all out there to be playing in the spring?

Now the season is on the line, as it has been from the moment that the Lakers first fell on their faces out of the starting gate. Only this time it’s for real.

So Howard will be back in the lineup playing in pain, at least in part because the misery that could come from Kobe for not playing might be felt far longer.

D’Antoni Isn’t Going Anywhere Soon

HANG TIME, Texas — OK, so Mike Brown got the ax after a 1-4 (.200) start and now Mike D’Antoni is 12-20 (.375) as his replacement.

In some places that maybe be called progress. In Laker Land it’s got many fans already looking for the next candidate to sit in Phil Jackson’s former big chair on the sidelines. Even Phil Jackson.

But while the angry villagers may be carrying torches and pitchforks as they make their way to storm the front gate, our man Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register says they’re wasting their time and kerosene:

There’s plenty of heat and speculation — and plenty for Mike D’Antoni to hash out as far as better utilizing his players, including 2013 free agent Dwight Howard — but I was told Thursday the Lakers are not considering a buyout or firing of D’Antoni as head coach.

The Lakers’ next chance to get off the floor is tonight, when they start a three-game homestand against Utah, Oklahoma City and New Orleans.

The bad news for D’Antoni’s critics is they’ll still have him to kick around as the Lakers try to stumble toward respectability. The good news is at least he’s got to stay there and watch it with them.

What do you think? Is it too crazy for the Lakers to bounce a second coach in the same season?

Numbers Don’t Favor Lakers

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — If and when this season officially goes over the basketball cliff, the Los Angeles Lakers will have their pick of scapegoats.

From the entire Buss family to David SternPhil Jackson, Kobe Bryant, Mike D’Antoni, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, Metta World Peace, the Hollywood elite and just about anyone else who has set foot in Staples Center this season, you will not be safe if things come completely undone and the Lakers miss the playoffs.

The real culprit, however, might be the numbers. They don’t lie and the Lakers are stalling at a time when they simply cannot afford to, given the obstacle course they have left to navigate.

As of this morning, they need to go 24-18 over the next 42 games just to break even this season, which we all know probably won’t be good enough to get them into the playoffs. That means they’ll need to play lights out over that same stretch to get back into the playoff picture.

While we’re not saying it’s impossible, it seems highly improbable for a team that’s managed a mighty 17-23 record heading into tonight’s game against Chicago (9:30 ET, TNT). Then again, the way things are going, impossible might need to be the rallying cry the Lakers use the rest of the way. Because no one thought this result was possible when Nash and Howard joined the party over the summer.

Fast forward to the third Monday of this New Year and Howard and the Lakers are still trying to get out of their own way, experiencing the sort of growing pains few people expected them to still be dealing with this late in the season.

Give the Lakers this much, they are giving it the old equal-opportunity try in assessing their issues. Everything is being scrutinized. Even Kobe has admitted his struggles and failings. Their defense has been atrocious, validating the fears of many (the HT crew included) that D’Antoni’s penchant for focusing so much on the offense might obscure the fact that this crew’s biggest deficiencies are on the  other side.

Despite despicable defensive numbers, they all seemed to be more concerned about offense, as Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register reports:

“The ball sticks,” D’Antoni lamented Sunday.

Said Nash: “Sometimes we don’t do what we talk about and we break away. And maybe that’s because we need more time, but to me, mentally you’ve got to stick with the script. Right now I think we’re defecting from the script too many times.”

Bryant’s thought process? Very different.

He said he was “very, very happy” about Pau Gasol getting consistent post-ups Sunday: “We got a lot of easy things from him down there, so we’ll start seeing that more often.” As for his poor shooting, Bryant said he was tired and needed to get more massages, ice baths and rest. He has been asked to defend the best perimeter player on the opposing team in recent games and last game requested more set plays for him to shoot.

“This team needs me at both ends of the floor,” adding a vague reference to “unless they’re going to do something roster-wise.”

The time for vague references are over. The Lakers have a definitive bottom line they are working. They have 42 games to work with and the legacy of this team, this group, and, specifically D’Antoni, Kobe, Nash, Howard and Gasol, will be defined in that time and space.

Time is running out!

Report: Dwight Looks Good On First Day

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — When is Dwight Howard going to be ready to suit up and actually play for the Los Angeles Lakers?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Nobody rocks a designer sweater better (you remember Howard from his introductory presser, above). But Lakers fans and NBA fans everywhere are itching to see what Howard looks like in action. And until now, we weren’t sure exactly when that would be. Howard is recovering from spinal surgery and there has never been a concrete return date given.

But he’s begun working with the Lakers’ training staff — his first day was Monday — and according to our main man Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register it was a “promising” first step, we could be getting closer to learning exactly when he’ll be ready:

Details are scarce and Lakers spokesman John Black declined to comment, but Howard on Monday had his first hands-on session with Lakers athletic trainer Gary Vitti and head physical therapist Judy Seto at the team’s training facility in El Segundo.

Howard is rehabilitating after April 20 spinal surgery, and no one has been ready to commit to a day, week or even month when Howard will make his Lakers debut. But the level of mobility and strength Howard is already showing has to be encouraging for anyone hopeful he’ll be jumping for that opening tip-off Oct. 30 against Dallas.

Howard insisted at his introductory Lakers news conference that he will not play until he is truly 100 percent. He also said this:

“Anybody who knows me and knows what I’m about: I would never quit anything and I would never fake an injury. I’ve never been a quitter. I’ve always been somebody who pushed through the end. I’ve had injuries before but I’ve never said anything about them. I’ve played through a lot of things.”